What The Heck Is Floating All About?

By Tessa Gallagher
13th Jan 2016

Image credit: Beyond Rest

What the heck is floating, and what’s possessed everyone from pro athletes to our most #intheknow of friends to become regular floaters?

Well guys, prepare to immerse yourselves in the ultimate relaxation trend that’s surfacing in Perth.

The basic concept is that floating reduces external stimuli to help the body achieve a natural restorative state. Some people compare the experience of floating to meditation or yoga. 

Tanks specifically designed for sensory deprivation or floating were created in the 1950’s but gained popularity in the 1970’s when it became known as Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (or REST).

Since then, floating has been used for a variety of reasons and loyal floaters (floatees?) acknowledge benefits including stress reduction, anxiety relief, pain reduction, increased metabolism, increased circulation, better sleep patterns as well as a whole myriad of other benefits around creativity, awareness, connection, clarity and self-control.

Despite my initial skepticism (You just float? For an hour?), I have become a massive fan mainly because it combines all the best parts of an indulgent warm bath, the zen of meditation, and the relaxation of massage.

So how does it all work exactly? 

Arriving at Beyond Rest in Perth for my first float, I was led down a corridor into my own private room, where the tank (which looks like a large enclosed bathtub) was glowing away in the middle of the room. The pod is built from fibreglass and is designed to block out all external distractions, such as sights, sounds, tactile sensations and gravity.

After getting undressed, showering and popping in some ear plugs, I got into the tank, which was surprisingly spacious (no claustrophobic feelings thank goodness!). The body-temperature water is loaded with Epsom salts to ensure effortless floating and once I was settled, it was almost impossible to tell which parts of my body were in the water and which weren’t. The buoyancy created by the Epsom-salt solution made me feel completely weightless and like I was floating in mid-air which was actually a bit trippy but felt really nice. Side note: the Epsom salt prevents you from going all prune-y as you relax so it moisturises your skin rather than drying it out—handy!

With ear plugs in and the tank’s interior lights switched off, the complete quiet and darkness at the start was a little difficult (every tiny twitch or movement would cause a wave in the tank), but my mind eventually started to wander to the gently fading music and at some point I started to doze off…I think. I had no concept of time and at the end, I couldn’t even fully tell if I was awake or not.

After what only seemed like about 10 minutes (but which was in fact an hour), the gentle music started, alerting me that my float session was over. I was so relaxed at this point, that it took my muscles a few seconds to want to move to get out of the tank.

After showering, I was encouraged to hang out in the post-float relaxation room—which was a nice way of bringing me back to earth before hitting the outside world. 

While it took a couple of floats to completely relax and get the most out of the experience, I can understand why floating devotees are hooked. Each float left me feeling super relaxed and calm…plus I always have an amazing night’s sleep afterwards and if nothing else, it’s worth it for that!

Looking for more ways to relax in Perth? Here are 8 Of Perth's Top Massage Spots!

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